Together we are increasing access to fresh, healthy produce
while supporting local farms and our farmers' markets!
What is Healthy Options?
The Healthy Options is a food voucher program that was being piloted in June 2011. In 2012, it enabled 40 families to purchase food from the Adams County Farm Fresh Markets. In 2014, the initiative had 70 participating families. Each family received $45/month in vouchers, during the months of June-September, to spend at the Farmer's Market.
Who is eligible?
Families that wish to take part must:
- Have an income that is between 160%-250% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines (2014 FPIG), meaning they do not qualify for SNAP;
- AND be referred to the project through community agencies such as the Circles Initiative, the LIU Migrant Education Program, SCCAP Food Pantries, Meals and More, WellSpan Latino Community Health Promoter, Family First Health Center, or community churches.
This project aims to:
- Provide families who are not eligible for food assistance programs with the increased ability to purchase healthy, fresh foods;
- Increase fruit and vegetable consumption;
- Support local farms and our local economy; and
- Provide nutrition education and support.
Recipients of the food vouchers are required to:
- Pick up their vouchers at the Farm Fresh Markets information table / EBT stand.
- Choose from among the Healthy Options interactive activities in order to engage in educational and/or feedback opportunities. Options may include: nutrition education with a Registered Dietitian and participating family, cooking classes, farm tours, gardening classes, hikes, and pre- and post- program surveys. Another optional activity that was offered is a 'Photovoice' project, in which participants take and share pictures of their families and their experiences with food.
- Inform the Healthy Options leaders if they move or decide not to continue participation so that the benefit can be shared with another family.
What were successes and lessons learned from the first two years?
Gettysburg College student, Lisa Martin '12, with the guidance of Professor Amy Dailey, evaluated the 2011 pilot project. Participants raved that the produce was “fresh,” “really good,” and “excellent,” and one participant claimed that while her family has tried eating healthier before, “it worked this time around.” Vendors at the farmers markets unanimously and enthusiastically encouraged the continuation of Healthy Options. Read the research.
During the summer of 2012, changes were made to make vouchers available to be picked up during all market times and the educational activities provided more options. Gettysburg College Professor Amy Dailey again assisted the Food Policy Council to assess the impact. The research "Healthy Options: A Community-Based Program to Address Food Insecurity" will soon be published in the Journal for Intervention and Prevention in the Community to highlight excellent campus-community food projects that positively impact racial disparities and health.
Further research and successes?
After the 2012 season, Gettysburg College student, Emily Constantian '13, created a video-research project for her senior thesis, examining the Healthy Options initiative and the impact it has had on participants. The video also focuses on the 'Photovoice' project, in which participants use photography to chronicle their experiences and relationships with food. Check out the video here.
In 2014, a Community Leader model was piloted for the program. Eight past Healthy Options participants were invited to lead groups of 8 to 10 other participants, making reminder phone calls about voucher pick-up and usage, assisting with activity planning and information, and supporting research with survey distribution to further improve the program.
How is this program funded?
This project is funded through community support!
Local farms have generously donated Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares re-sale, including Common Grounds Farm, Everblossom Farm, Beech Springs Farm and Sherlock's Farm, Broad Valley Orchard, and Tuckey's Mountain Grown Berries, Fruits and Vegetables.
Additional support has been through fundraising campaigns with the Campus Kitchens and collaborative efforts from: The Adams County Food Policy Council, Healthy Adams County, The Adams County Farmers Market Association, The Gettysburg Hospital Foundation, The Adams County Circles Initiative, The Gettysburg College Chapel, The St. James Mission Foundation, The Center for Public Service , as well as many more individual donations.
Thank you all!!